Maritime & Transport / Rail

What is the future of construction and maintenance of heavy haul rail networks?

The Australian Railway Association is pleased to welcome Craig Goldie, Director of Swietelsky International, to the speaking faculty of Heavy Haul Rail 2012.

Craig shared some of his views on the future of construction and maintenance of heavy haul rail networks before he takes to the lectern in Newcastle in August.

Moving commodities from pit-to-port as efficiently as possible is the ultimate goal for heavy haul rail operators. What improvements needs to be made in the area of track-laying and maintenance in order to support the need for quick and reliable movements of minerals, particularly as axle loads continue?
• Complete mechanisation. It’s safe, costs less to deliver, gives higher quality and extends the life cycle.
• Introducing design-led geometry management throughout the whole life cycle of the track structure will have a significant bearing on its cost effective sustainability, durability and reliability.
• To be effective, maintenance needs predictive modeling to measure deterioration and determine exact intervention cycles.
• Modern high tonnage, high density, rail-borne freight traffic will exploit any weakness in the track structure hence the need for exact, high spec installation and intensive targeted maintenance.
• The cost of building up a fully mechanised approach to renewals and maintenance. While expensive, it will be immaterial when the consequences of a failing track asset on a high volume pit to port operation are measured.

And in regards to rolling stock maintenance – How important is a whole-of-life approach?
• Rolling stock has to be subjected to the most rigorous maintenance regime to protect the wheel rail interface. Mechanised maintenance will only be most effectively delivered if a similar quality of design and maintenance is applied to rolling stock.
• The wheel rail interface has to be managed with heavy axle, high tonnage routes in a way that fully integrates track and train design.
• Secure maximum whole life cost effectiveness by preventative, predictive maintenance.
• Reduced failures and reduce unpredictable performance comes at a significantly lower cost than the cost of allowing the performance of the asset to fail.

In order for the industry to continue providing the most advanced rail solutions to support the mining sector, innovation is required. Where are we heading in terms of heavy haul technology?
• This is all about reducing the interventions required for maintenance and increasing the volumes of paths available. Paths earn revenue, maintenance interventions cost revenue.
• The most effective and efficient railway operation is the one that delivers the same volumes of path availability each day and every day without delay or interruption
• The same intolerance of failure on a densely packed suburban network needs to exist in dense heavy haul.
• This does not mean huge maintenance costs, it means a high-quality, fully integrated approach to renewal and maintenance is required.
• Measuring the cost effectiveness of high-reliability, high-quality asset control on a heavy haul route is best considered on a total cost model, when the true value of delay and disruption or additional paths are included in the cost of maintaining and renewing the asset. As a simple example: The use of dynamic track stabilisation technology can extend maintenance intervals for tamping by 50% and, most importantly, reduce the time spent on track maintenance interventions by up to a third. If this generates just one extra path per period, the annual running costs of a DTS pale into insignificance compared to the revenue generated

You will be delivering a presentation at the ARA Heavy Haul Rail which will examine “Construction and maintenance of heavy haul rail networks – A 2020 approach, today”. What can delegates expect to take away from your presentation?
• The technology that is now available to maintain and renew the track asset can make a significant difference as to how efficiently and effectively the track structure can be maintained and managed.
• Reducing the time needed to maintain the network and increasing the paths available, underpinned by a sustainable and reliable network is the nirvana of the railway owner and operator.
• With so much revenue and tax income generated through Australia’ s mine to port operations, the high cost of the technology needed to arrive at cost effective, whole asset life is significantly outweighed by the economic benefits to the end user.

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